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'Shop Clarksville First' By JIMMY SETTLE The Leaf-Chronicle November 6, 2002

'Shop Clarksville First'
By JIMMY SETTLE The Leaf-Chronicle
November 6, 2002
Item# shopclarfirb

Product Description

Chamber wants customers to 'Shop Clarksville First'


The Leaf-Chronicle

Halloween has happened. Election Day is over.

With virtually no other distractions standing between the consumer and the holiday shopping season, the Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce is trying to stake an early claim on local retail dollars.

The chamber has launched a major campaign to encourage residents to spend their money in Montgomery County this holiday season. The "Shop Clarksville First" campaign runs now through December.

"Our economy has taken a hit since the sales tax increase," said Chamber Chairman Niesha Wolfe, referring to the state Legislature's penny increase in sales tax earlier this year.

That made the total sales tax 9.5 percent locally.

"When we shop outside Montgomery County, our money stays outside Montgomery County," Wolfe said.

"Those funds build roads in other counties, they educate children in other counties, and they improve the quality of living for other people. This year, I hope all residents will make a commitment to shop locally whenever possible," Wolfe said.

Area media are providing in-kind advertising to help promote the campaign, including The Leaf-Chronicle, WJZM radio, Five-Star Radio Group, Charter Communications and Lamar Advertising.

Meanwhile, early projections for the holiday shopping season nationwide are rather bleak this year. To offset the talk of sluggishness, retailers are getting an early jump on trying to woo spending customers into their stores.

Holidays start early

Sears, Roebuck & Co.'s Christmas trim-a-tree department is open. At Wal-Mart, rows of red silk poinsettias overlook a craft department with an aisle of fabric printed in Christmas themes.

These and other retailers across the country face an uphill battle. For starters, there are only 26 shopping days after Thanksgiving this year, six fewer days and one fewer weekend than last year.

Worse, experts say deteriorating consumer confidence, uncertainty over war and growing fears about job security and pay cuts are taking a toll.

The typical consumer household plans to spend $649 on Christmas presents this holiday. But 89 percent intend to spend the same amount or less than they did last Christmas, according to a survey of 7,700 consumers released last week by BIGresearch.

Emerging trends

Retailers think some emerging trends will help. New fashion fads are getting traction. While no red-hot new toy has emerged, there are plenty of nominees.

The latest version of Tickle Me Elmo does the chicken dance, a wooden doll house comes furnished in Laura Ashley fabric, and a Spider-Man Web Blaster Glove squirts a sticky substance.

Some think Yu-Gi-Oh collectible cards will make kids forget Pokemon.

Men's tailored clothing sales are up 12 percent ahead of last year, says NPD Group. So retailers hope sale prices will prod more men to forsake casual wear at work, leading to some stores prominently displaying neckties and businesswear.

The National Retail Federation is sticking with its holiday forecast of a 4 percent gain in general merchandise, apparel and home furnishings sales.

That would be milquetoast compared with a 5.6 percent sales gain run up last Christmas in the wake of Sept. 11.

Many retailers depend on the holidays for up to a quarter of their annual sales and half their annual profits in November and December. Jewelers, mail order catalogs and online merchants count on the holidays for about a third of their annual sales.

Another bellwether for the holidays is September. This year sales in September turned more anemic nationwide than many seers expected.

"In essence, all retailers will be discounters this holiday season," said Tracy Mullin, president of the National Retail Federation.

Originally published Wednesday, November 6, 2002

 





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